I like Nairobi, and this is a post about 10 things you should Things to Know and Do in Nairobi.

1. Know the slang versions of Swahili

swahili words

Our first tip for Things to Know and Do in Nairobi is to knows shenge. Swahili Slang.

Swahili, the main language of Kenya is a beautiful language, and there are many books and videos that show you how to speak it. However, there are slangs that make the locals not guess at once that you’re a foreigner – which is good, because this means that they will not overcharge you. For example, don’t go about saying “habari yako”, which is proper Swahili for “good morning“. Instead use words like “sasa“, “Niaje“, “mambo“. Those are local words that mean hi and will get you friends quick. Also use bob instead of shillings.

2. Food is Expensive. And Cheap.

Food is expensive if you don’t know your way around and also depends on where you eat. Food in the CBD, as it is called is very cheap, but avoid fancy names like Java, ArtCaffe, and the rest. So how cheap is cheap? Anything from 500ksh ($4.5) is expensive. Also, whatever you do, don’t pay for food delivery.

You should try:

  • Ugali
  • Pilau (Beef or Chicken)
  • Biryani 
  • Chapati
  • Nyama Choma
  • Rice.

3. M-pesa is a thing here. Get it.

I love M-pesa. It’s the fastest way to pay for stuff around here. Think of it like your local Paypal.

M-PESA is Africa’s most successful mobile money service and the region’s largest fintech platform. … It also provides financial services to millions of people who have mobile phones, but do not have bank accounts, or only have limited access to banking services.

M-pesa works on any phone. Even the extremely cheap ones. I should mention it only works with Safaricom though, so if you’re getting a sim card – do safaricom. 

4. Use Matatus. They are cool.

The matatus have a relationship with art. They have artists 👩‍🎨 from all over the world to paint stuff on them. Google matautu culture. Also they are scaringly cheap to move around. For example, my apartment to CBD would cost me 190bob with Uber. But with a matatu I can get away with 40bob.

Matatus are cheap. Flex it.

5. Budgeting will save you.

A thousand shillings is 10$. So it’s a high brow county. One of the main Things to Know and Do in Nairobi also is to Manage your pocket. You won’t do yourself any good if you get broke on time. Some tips that would help are:

  • Don’t shop at the malls, find a supermarket near you.
  • Get a local friend to help and give you advice. One main thing that helped was a friend who told me what matatus were available, where and when.
  • Anything above $10 in Nairobi is expensive.

Basically, a budget would be a lifesaver, so keep one. 

6. The Malls are great. Visit them.

There are so many malls in nairobi, and you will not get tired of shopping. There’s Junction, Thika Road, Westgate, and more and you’ll get everything you ever need in them.

7. Make sure you know the rules of the land.

When you know the Things to Know and Do in Nairobi, you will relatively be very safe. For example, Crossing the road while using your phone can get you arrested. Not using a mask can get you arrested or fined.

8 Security.

Kenyan security is ok, but one can’t be too careful. Always carry your passport EVERYWHERE. Here are our Things to Know and Do in Nairobi as regarding security.

  • Make a copy of your passport and keep it in your luggage
  • Don’t walk on your own at night, especially in isolated areas
  • Get local knowledge on the unsafe areas. Kenyans are a friendly bunch, and will be happy to let you know about no-go areas. 
  • Remain vigilant; travel in Africa can be confronting at times and having a good grasp of where you are and who’s around will make your trip easier
  • Snatch and grabs occur in busy places. If you feel like someone is too close to you, duck into a building or shop to get some extra space
  • Avoid traveling at night in rural locations. Aside from the danger of bandits, trucks and other vehicles without headlights, the journey is much riskier in the dark

See source.

9. Nairobi has a great Nightlife.

As one who’s major career is music, anywhere I go, I have to check out the scene. After dark, locals, expats, and visitors mingle at venues that range from exclusive champagne bars to nightclubs that pulsate with the sounds of electrifying African beats. Music is a key ingredient for Kenyans wishing to let their hair down and you’ll find it here in every genre and setting imaginable. In particular, keep an ear out for genge, a strain of hip hop that originated in Nairobi.

10. Ditch Plastic (Nylon Bags)


Things to Know and Do in Nairobi, number 10: Plastic is FORBIDDEN. Only Eco friendly bags are allowed (as seen above.)

Kenya’s plastic bag ban—the world’s toughest—is now firmly in place. In a zero-tolerance gambit to reduce the country’s plastic pollution, producing, selling, and even using plastic bags could net violators a hefty fine and even jail time. 

Stay happy.


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Hi! I'm travellerzee and you're welcome to my blog where I'll share tips on traveling and making or saving money - my 2 passions.

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